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Old 01-17-2016, 08:32 PM   #1
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Propex HS2800 install on EB50

First a little back story. This past summer (username) Ledger contacted me wondering if she could look at a Sportsmobile in person. She's not a camper, per se, but she works in rural areas for long periods on occasion and wanted a comfortable, capable off-road camper that could house her and her pets for extended periods. She's a farm girl and has run the wheels off a couple of F250 7.3 diesels over the last several years so it had to be a 7.3 or nothing. I looked at several (online) with her and after one or two near misses and lost/bad deals she came across this gem all the way in Port Angeles WA! That's only about 2800 miles from us. She was pretty sure it was the one so she flew out and drove straight home. Yep, another cross-country SMB purchase! I talked to the salesman on the phone (at a small lot) and helped her through the deal, really just helping her feel out the whole thing since this was a big purchase and a long way away. She's sharp and independent, but it was a big deal for her so I was honored to be able to help her out.

Here's the beast, an 02 EB50 7.3 with only 100k. It is beautiful and very clean!



Here's the proud owner after a few weeks of ownership when she dropped by to show me and discuss some help with a few mods.



Moving on, she now has a well appointed SMB, with propane fired hot water and stove, but no furnace. She would need it for working/living in the van occasionally through the winter. She tried a Buddy Heater for trip and then quickly decided that wasn't going to work. I despise my Surburban for the size and noise so after some research I recommended a Propex. Tiny footprint, and the 2800 is the biggest model which should easily heat an EB pop top.

She dropped it off for that and a couple of other small things. It was the first job, other than keeping my personal junk rolling, in the new shop. More on that later.

Nothing like a driveway full of SMBs!



to be continued..........
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Old 01-17-2016, 08:48 PM   #2
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Continued.........It's amazing to me but even with all her stuff in the van there is plenty of room. We had several places the Propex would fit but chose right under the bed on the passenger side for ease of adding the propane line there right off the hot water heater, and also a straight shot to a good spot for the vent.

Here's where the vent will go, replacing this expired LP alarm. New one ordered.



The problem was that the Intellipower converter was right behind the panel, so I moved and rewired it, giving it a lot more room to breathe than whoever installed it did.



I prewired for the new LP sensor on the right side of this pic, in the small spot between the folded down access door and the trash-bin door under the sink.



For size comparison, this is the biggest Propex made and look how small it is compared to our older-school Suburban/Atwood furnaces. It's not even half the size, only about 6" high and maybe 1.5' long.



The plan was to put it sideways right in front of the water heater, having to put only two holes in the van floor for the burner intake and exhaust. Another Propex advantage, no holes in the bodywork of the van. For this to work I did have to cut a piece out of the panel on the left. You'll see how this worked out for a fresh air chamber below.



Only two holes cut



I did have to go back and square the burner exhaust hole so as not to risk the wood flooring/Lonseal plastic flooring stuff (whatever it is) getting hot.



Here it is in place, and you can now see how this location cost her the least space, and also made the propane install super simple using only a T off the water heater and a few connectors.



To be continued.............
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Old 01-17-2016, 09:17 PM   #3
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Continued..........Here's the Intellipower in it's new spot, not yet wired, and you can see the clear path the Propex vent now has. It is directly behind the panel at the bottom of this pic.



Getting close to finished, panel cut and re-installed over Propex with PVC for a fresh air intake and a screen over the end to keep from sucking up anything it shouldn't. This location made a nice fresh air box for the Propex, and has a few gaps at the edges so it breathes well. Vent hose gets up to about 140 degrees so it is suspended above the Intellipower and wiring. It is not laying on them.









Vent installed and charge wizard relocated. Some fool put the charge wizard sideways for some reason originally. Why???



Controller added right inside side barn door, so it can be easily reached laying in bed, or from outside the door or sitting on the couch.





Here's the layout under the van, exhaust run to an open spot just above the muffler. I didn't love going above the leaf spring like this, but it's right against the bottom of the van body there, well above the leaf spring. I can't see a leaf spring compressing that far. I really couldn't figure a better place to put it.



And the fresh air intake run in the opposite direction over to the center of the van, far away from diesel exhaust.



She left for a trip the day after she picked it up from me and other than having to reset the unit once after several days of perfect operation it has done fine. We're still not sure what that was about. She used it several 20 degree nights and said she was very comfortable with the dial on about 11 o'clock. Also, this thing is quiet! You can really only hear the rush of warm air coming from the vent.

I forgot to take a pic of this but I built a box over the tubing in the end, having decided I needed it to keep anything stored under there from laying on or sliding into the vent tubes. Basically, just a 1x6" formed box around what you see here:



My next furnace will no doubt be a Propex!

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Old 01-17-2016, 09:43 PM   #4
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Fanstastic writeup!! After spending some nights in 40deg, I'm really looking at my options for a furnace. The only problem is that I don't have propane or diesel! I have been using the little buddy but I'm not totally sold on it.
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Old 01-18-2016, 09:51 AM   #5
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Nice install, I"m having heater envy despite already having a Suburban htr. I keep looking at all the options, but since my current one works well enough, it's going to be tough to justify a new one even though I'd like a few more BTU's. Two questions, are you concerned about getting water / mud/ insects, in the exhaust port? I can only imagine what it looks like under the van when driving through rain, snow etc. What about exhaust (or carbon monoxide) seeping into the van through any holes in the floor or whatever? Anyway, great job, thanks for the thread..........
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Old 01-18-2016, 10:47 AM   #6
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Nice install report!
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Old 01-18-2016, 01:36 PM   #7
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86scotty, I've been learning about furnaces from a somewhat parallel thread (How to stay warm at altitude). What caught my eye here are your comments about how quiet the Propex HS2800 is. Given a choice I was leaning towards going for a suburban, but your other comments on its sized and noise are kind of discouraging.
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Old 01-18-2016, 02:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Makalu1 View Post
86scotty, I've been learning about furnaces from a somewhat parallel thread (How to stay warm at altitude). What caught my eye here are your comments about how quiet the Propex HS2800 is. Given a choice I was leaning towards going for a suburban, but your other comments on its sized and noise are kind of discouraging.
Don't do it. They're horrible. Just find any RV in any lot and it's going to have a Surburban or an Atwood in it. Listen to it and judge for yourself. For whatever reason SMB uses Suburban. I bought an Atwood for my last home build van and it was much better than the Suburban, so my choices would be 1. Propex, 2. Atwood, 3. A Buddy heater, 4. wool jumpsuit, 5, wood stove in van, 12 or 13. Suburban. Sorry to be discouraging. It's just my opinion of course. There are other options as well, but I have no experience with them. If you have a diesel an Espar is supposed to be great.

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Old 01-18-2016, 03:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arctictraveller View Post
Two questions, are you concerned about getting water / mud/ insects, in the exhaust port? I can only imagine what it looks like under the van when driving through rain, snow etc. What about exhaust (or carbon monoxide) seeping into the van through any holes in the floor or whatever?
I've seen a few installs, in Westy (VWs) mostly, and also followed the directions. I haven't seen anyone bother trying to seal those pipes coming out of the bottom not did the installation manual recommend it. I would think the exhaust side would just melt whatever you used. I sized the holes perfectly so there is no gap at all, except inside where I cut the flooring a little ways back (inside) to let heat dissipate. Also, I placed the furnace in a spot where water wouldn't be flying up from the wheel. As for insects, it might not be a bad idea to put some metal screen over the ends of those, but once again I haven't seen anyone bother and the manual doesn't mention the need. Where we live stink bugs will crawl in and infest anywhere so we've already talked about adding some screen anyway. I'm not at all worried about carbon monoxide. It's a pretty tight fit on the pipes and every RV should have a C02 and LP detector. What's more, it's a brand new, well engineered unit. I have no worries about that. Also, I wouldn't recommend running any furnace while the vehicle is running.

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Old 01-18-2016, 03:29 PM   #10
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Scotty, where did you guys source the Propex? I am ready to pull the trigger on the HS2800 for my EB.


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